Raise the Roof

How do we create ecological housing, utilising natural materials and local expertise – in ways that are affordable even for those on low incomes? This is the focus of the Raise the Roof project, which is developing a model for locally rooted manufacturing and the construction or retrofitting of affordable housing, linked to regenerative land use. 

Wessex is currently with a range of partners, including the architects Assemble Studio who won the Turner Art Prize for the development of the Granby Workshop in Liverpool. Other partners include Common Ground, The Arts Development Company, The Woodland Presents, Plymouth University and Bridport Town Council.  

The aim is to support the production of sustainable resources (timber, hemp and flax), create local infrastructure for processing and fabrication, and enable communities to build or refurbish affordable housing drawing on these local materials and local infrastructure. 

WCA recently organised two successful courses in sustainable construction, as part of the process of prototyping initial designs and testing local supply chains. The Raise the Roof project is now moving into a second stage: aiming to show how the economy of a typical small town can be transformed through linking the primary production of key sustainable resources (timber and “woody fibres”- flax and hemp), the development of new processing and fabrication infrastructure and the design and prototyping of ecological and affordable housing. 

The project addresses three interlocking crises – the lack of affordable housing, the lack of training and decent jobs, and the unsustainable nature of present production and consumption. The aim is to achieve a fair transition to an ecological and equitable local economy, and develop a model that can be adopted widely – based on the creation of key community-led assets and networks.